Adaptive bikes are great for helping disabled people who can't use a regular bike get out on the trails, and adaptive riders can now even race in the EWS. However, the most common designs do come with their own unique set of problems. Three or four wheeled designs
are often confined to specially designed adaptive trails due to their width while bucket seat designs
require support from either other riders or something to lean on when the bike is stationary.
That's where Orange comes in with its new Phase AD3 adaptive bike. It's a labour of love nearly six years in the making that has been designed to help get Lorraine Truong back in the saddle and riding the kind of Alpine bike park trails that she loves.
Orange Phase AD3 DetailsFrame Material:
170mm front / 160mm rearWheelsize:
27.5" front and rearMotor/Battery:
Paradox Kinetics motor, 504 Wh batteryWeight:
N/AMore info: orangebikes.com
Truong is a former enduro and downhill racer who had suffered a traumatic brain injury at the EWS in Samoens in 2015. She was left with a right side paresis, which she describes as being like a ‘soft’ version of paralysis that makes it hard to engage the right-hand side of her body. She had to stop riding immediately and, while she has found a second calling in wheelchair freestyle
, she has been off the bike from her accident until now.
The key to the new bike is the front end that has been designed by Orange's Senior Design Engineer Alex Desmond who wanted to create an adaptive bike that was as similar to a conventional mountain bike as possible. The system is set up so the front tires are only as wide as the pedals, which opens up trails that are normally inaccessible to adaptive bike riders. Alex says this means you can ride it on trails narrower than 350mm and even down ruts with one wheel in and one out.
The design hinges around the front linkage that could theoretically be fitted to any bike and wouldn't change its geometry. It is a patent-pending design that uses a pair of cantilever linkage arms to join two additional head tubes. There is then a second steering linkage element that connects the two forks to the original steering head tube.
Alex has designed multiple versions based around different handlebar configurations, but all of them allow riders to ride with up to 40% lean (or on 40% off-camber trails), which gives extra security and apparently incredible flat cornering ability to disabled riders.
Alex believes that alongside its performance, his design also increases rider safety. He said, "Having two wheels at the front increases the front-end grip by 50% and it means you understeer instead of low siding. In addition to this, I designed the linkage so it locks up at maximum lean and forms a protective cage around the riders’ legs. Having two wheels also turns the bike into a tripod which, combined with the patent-pending linkage and balance mechanism I designed, allows riders to independently stop or maneuver slowly, which you couldn’t do with two wheels at the back."
Alongside the front and rear damping, the bike is also fitted with seat post suspension that can be used in combination with the bucket seat to give the riders some centre-of-mass movement, allowing them to pump and jump more easily.
The rest of the bike is built around an Orange Phase frame however the motor is swapped out for a Paradox Kinetic eMTB as it comes with a handlebar throttle. The bikes has a 504wh battery and a 1.5kw continuous motor with a 2kw peak and around 150NM of torque. There's also a 635wh battery design too, but Lorraine has a small frame (she has the nickname 'Pocket Rocket' for a reason) so Alex wanted to keep the battery compact. In total, this gives Lorraine the ability to ride 700m of technical climbing on one battery and about 25km of trail.
Lorraine first got hold of the design in the summer last year and apparently it was an instant hit. Alex said, “Lorraine pretty much jumped on, balanced independently and rode straight off. Within minutes she was trying to slide the back end around but, with the brakes reversed for the UK setting, she ended up doing an endo with a massive grin on her face. I was chasing her down the road begging her to take it easy!”.
In the future, it's likely that Alex and Orange will continue making the bikes on an order-by-order basis with systems and builds to be tuned to suit a specific rider's needs and abilities. Alex said, "I’ve been working in secrecy on the Phase AD3 for 6 years so I’m really looking forward to seeing what the reception is. My hope is that it can create a new type of adaptive bike and we’re inviting anyone who wants one to get in touch with Orange to discuss."Watch Lorraine in action on the bike, here